Skip to Content

Where should I put my cats food bowl?

Determining the ideal location for your cat’s food bowl is an important consideration for any cat owner. The placement of the food bowl can impact your cat’s health, behavior, and overall quality of life. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key factors to consider when deciding where to place your cat’s food bowl. Proper food bowl placement establishes a feeding routine, avoids bathroom contamination, and accommodates your cat’s preferences. Read on for expert advice on optimal food bowl placement to keep your cat happy and healthy.

Should the food bowl be near the water bowl?

Many cat owners intuitively place the food and water bowls right next to each other. However, this practice is not necessarily ideal for cats. Here are some factors to consider regarding the proximity of the food and water bowls:

  • Cats often do not like their food and water sources to be too close together. In the wild, cats consume prey far from the water sources to avoid contamination.
  • When the bowls are side-by-side, food particles can get into the water bowl and make the water unappealing to drink.
  • Placing the bowls in separate areas helps establish a feeding routine. Your cat can learn to visit one area for food, then go to a different spot for water.
  • Separating the bowls decreases competition if you have multiple cats. Cats can access each resource without being crowded.

For these reasons, it is usually best to place the food and water bowls in separate, but accessible areas of your home. Make sure the water is still within a reasonable distance from the food. Aim to keep the bowls within the same general feeding zone without touching.

Should the bowl be away from the litter box?

Yes, you will definitely want to position the food bowl away from the litter box in the home. Here is why:

  • Cats like to keep their sources of food and bathroom areas separate. In nature, wild felines travel far from kill sites before going to the bathroom.
  • Placing the litter box near food can deter your cat from eating. The close proximity may make them perceive their food as contaminated.
  • Litter particles can also spread from the litter box to the food bowl, leading to accidental ingestion while your cat eats.
  • The litter box will smell! Keeping it far from food reduces the spread of unpleasant odors to the dining area.

Most experts recommend keeping the food bowl at least 10-20 feet away from the litter box if possible. Place them on different sides of the home. Cats strongly prefer their sources of food and bathroom areas to be far apart.

Should it be in a quiet or high-traffic area?

Cats can have quite varying preferences when it comes to the amount of activity and noise near their food bowl. Here are some factors that can help you decide whether to place the food in a quiet spot or a busier area:

  • Kittens and high-anxiety cats often prefer quieter areas with less foot traffic and noise. This helps them feel secure while eating.
  • Confident, social cats sometimes prefer busier areas so they can monitor the household activity during meal times.
  • Try to avoid placing the bowl next to loud appliances. Cats are easily startled while eating.
  • Pay attention to your cat’s personality. If they tend to run and hide from commotion, pick a quiet, private spot.
  • Make sure children know not to bother a cat while eating. Give cats their own peaceful dining space.

In general, a moderate amount of activity is fine for most cats. Monitor your cat’s comfort and don’t feed them right next to a high-traffic hallway or noisy appliance. Providing a quiet, peaceful dining area is ideal for timid cats.

Should it be on an elevated surface?

Feeding cats on elevated surfaces like counters or shelves has some potential benefits:

  • Elevated bowls can help reduce neck strain. Cats use an up and down chewing motion and do not have to bend down.
  • Raised bowls are easier to keep clean. They avoid food, water, and dirt scattering on the floor.
  • Elevated bowls mimic natural feeding positions for trees-dwelling cats.
  • In multi-cat households, elevation provides “prime real estate” for eating and reduces competition.

However, there are also some downsides to feeding on high surfaces:

  • Elevated bowls increase the risk of vomiting and bloat. The unnatural eating angle may increase air swallowing.
  • Cats with arthritis or other mobility issues may struggle climbing up to elevated bowls.
  • Spills become more likely on surfaces not designed for holding liquids.
  • Kittens and senior cats may have difficulty with the height.

In most cases, keeping food and water bowls on the floor is perfectly fine for cats. Monitor your cat when feeding on elevated surfaces. Discontinue use if any issues like vomiting or reluctance to jump up arise.

Should it be in a high-traffic or low-traffic area?

The decision of whether to place your cat’s food bowl in a high-traffic or low-traffic area of your home depends on several factors:

  • Kitten or older cat: Kittens and senior cats with limited mobility prefer their bowls in an easy to access, low-traffic spot. This prevents them from having to navigate through busy areas or climb up and down from counters.
  • Anxious or timid cat: Shy cats feel most comfortable eating in a quiet, peaceful, low-traffic area. Exposure to heavy foot traffic and noise may dissuade timid cats from approaching their bowls.
  • Busy or social cat: Confident, energetic cats sometimes prefer being in the mix of household activity during mealtimes. A high-traffic area allows them to monitor their surroundings.
  • Multi-cat home: In homes with multiple cats, a low-traffic area with space to distance the bowls can prevent crowding and resource guarding.
  • Household schedule: Position the bowl in an area you pass by frequently on your daily routine. This ensures you will remember to refresh it.

Take your cat’s age, personality, and household dynamics into consideration. Monitor their comfort level and make adjustments if they seem unwilling to eat in a high-traffic locale. Providing a quiet, easily accessible spot is ideal for most cats.

Should it be on a placemat or bare floor?

Using a placemat under your cat’s food bowl comes with pros and cons:

Potential benefits of placemats:

  • Catches spilled food and water droppings
  • Provides a dedicated eating surface
  • Makes cleanup easier by containing mess
  • Adds a visual/textural cue during mealtimes
  • Anchors bowl in place and prevents tipping

Downsides of placemats:

  • Need regular washing as bacteria builds up
  • Some cats try to drag or flip placemats
  • Can slide around on floors if not secured
  • Adds cost for pet owners
  • Cats may try to ingest loose strings or fabric

When deciding whether or not to use a placemat, consider your cat’s personality. Docile cats who eat neatly may benefit from a placemat. But rambunctious cats who tend to tip bowls are better off with direct floor contact. Make sure any placemat is made of cat-safe materials that can be easily cleaned.


Determining where to place your cat’s food bowl requires taking multiple factors into account, including your cat’s age, personality, and preferences. Here are some key takeaways on optimal food bowl placement:

  • Separate food and water bowls in the same general area
  • Keep food at least 10-20 feet away from litter boxes
  • Choose a quiet yet accessible spot based on your cat’s temperament
  • Elevated bowls can be beneficial but require monitoring
  • Consider high vs low-traffic areas depending on cat and home dynamics
  • Placemats under bowls can contain messes if your cat eats neatly

Pay close attention to your individual cat’s needs. Be willing to experiment with different set-ups and make adjustments. Your cat will let you know through their behavior and appetite if they are comfortable with their food bowl location. With some thoughtful consideration, you can establish an optimal feeding area that promotes health and happiness.